Monday, March 10, 2008

Drug Forms - A Guide for the Medical Transcriptionist

By Connie Limon

Drugs are created in many different forms that include:

• Tablet

• Capsule

• Cream

• Ointment

• Lotion

• Powder

• Liquid

• Suppositories

• Transdermal


Contain dried powdered active drug as well as binders and fillers to provide bulk and proper tablet size. Scored tablets have an indented line running across the top. A scored tablet can be easily broken into two pieces with a knife to produce two doses.

Enteric tablets are covered with a special coating that resists stomach acid and dissolves in the alkaline environment of the small intestine to avoid irritation.

Slow-release tablets are made to provide a continuous, sustained release of certain drugs. Abbreviation for slow-release tablet is SR and for long acting tablets, the abbreviation is LA in the trade name of the drug. Example: Procan SR and Entex LA.

Caplets are easy-to-swallow coated tablets in the form of capsules.

Capsules is a drug form that comes in two varieties, soft gelatin shell made in one piece in which the drug is in a liquid form inside the shell and a hard shell made in two pieces that fit together and hold the drug, which is in a powdered or granular form.

Cream is a semisolid emulsion of oil such as lanolin or petroleum and water. The main ingredient is water. Many topical drugs are made in a cream base.

Ointment is a semisolid emulsion of oil such as lanolin or petroleum and water. Oil is the main ingredient. Many topical drugs are made in an ointment base such Kenalog ointment and specially formulated ophthalmic ointments.

Most creams and ointments are applied to the skin without precise measurement with the exception of nitroglycerin ointment used to prevent angina. Nitroglycerin is precisely measured in inches on a specially marked applicator paper which is taped to the patient’s skin.

Lotion is a suspension of an active drug in a water base for external use. Example is Keri lotion.

Powder is a finely ground form of an active drug.

Liquid comes in the form of either solutions or suspensions. Solutions come in the form of elixirs, syrups, tinctures, liquid sprays and foams.

Elixirs contain an alcohol and water base with added sugar and flavoring. Example would be Tylenol elixir.

Liquid sprays contain a solution of the drug combined with water or alcohol to be sprayed by a pump or aerosol propellant.

Suspensions contain fine, un-dissolved particles of a drug suspended in a liquid base.

Suppositories contain a solid base of glycerin or cocoa butter containing the drug.

Transdermal form of drugs is relatively new. It consists of a multi-layered disk containing a drug reservoir, a porous membrane, and an adhesive layer to hold it to the skin.

It helps to know the meanings of the different kinds of drug forms as you transcribe medical dictation.

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

Written by: Connie Limon, Medical Transcriptionist. Visit us at for more information about the unique and rewarding career choice of Medical Transcription. Join Camelot Articles and submit your original articles for website promotion and backlinks.

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